Recently I attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter.
Like any Indian wedding, it was crowded, noisy and unpredictable. Then suddenly, amidst the human sea, I recognized him: Vasudevan Baskaran, the last Indian Hockey Captain to bring home an Olympic Gold Medal (Moscow, 1980). At a time when hockey was still a great spectator sport, he was a hero. I waded through the crowd and introduced myself. Baskaran turned out to be the bride’s own uncle.
After the customary photo session with the bride & groom, I ran into him again at the dais. I requested him to pose with me while my wife whipped out the Smartphone. He not only obliged, but insisted that I take a photo of him posing with Anu. A sporting gesture from a sporting great!
A strong Left-Back, Baskaran represented India in 2 Olympics, 2 World Cups, 2 Asiads and several other Internationals. As India’s “Crisis Coach” he has often been called to manage transitions in the team or support short-lived foreign coaches. Despite his impeccable FIH coaching credentials, he never got a long enough stint as coach. In all these years, his passion for hockey never declined; he even lives in a house called “Hockey House”! He is the recipient of the Arjuna Award and the Padmashri. Still active, he is the chief coach of Bhopal Badshahs in the World Series.
I felt a child-like thrill after a long time.